You likely have great plans for your senior years and have saved money to fund those plans. Many people travel or take this opportunity to do the things they've always wished they had time to do — pick up a hobby, take some classes, go back for a degree. Others look forward to relaxing and spending time with their family and friends.
Will You Have Enough?
What many people neglect to plan for is the possibility that they might outlive their savings, which can happen for many reasons. An extended retirement, caused either by early retirement or living longer than you ever expected to, can be a reason. So can inflation, which means that the buying power of your money will diminish over time. For instance, even with an average inflation rate of 4%, retirees at age 60 with an income of $2,500 per month will have the purchasing power of just $1,388 per month by the time they're 75. In effect, half of your income will be lost in just fifteen years. In addition, health and even long–term care expenses could quickly deplete money that you spent years acquiring — money that was set aside for an expected healthy retirement.
Senior women are faced with a unique set of realities that makes it even more crucial to ensure their assets are protected. As women, on average, tend to live longer than men and the rate of divorce in this country has risen, a large percentage of senior women are now alone. For women age 75 or older and living alone, the median household income was approximately $14,600 in 2004-2005. (Source: Women & Long-Term Care Research Report Ari N. Houser, AARP Public Policy Institute April 2007)
These women can't count on a spouse's finances to help them through these years and may not have the familiarity with managing money that is needed to make it last.
What You Can Do
Fortunately, there are some basic strategies you can employ to help ensure that your golden years will stay that way. First of all, it's important to find ways to maximize returns on money in order to keep pace with inflation. It's also important to be comfortable with the risk level you are willing to assume on your money. Lastly, it's a good idea to make sure that you are financially protected in the event of illness, and that you have an estate plan in place.
Consider a Fixed Annuity
If you have a lump–sum of money to invest — perhaps from a rolled–over CD, pension or an inheritance — and are looking for a less risky vehicle than the stock market, one option is a fixed annuity.
Fixed annuities can provide tax–deferred growth of your money, a competitive rate of return and guaranteed income for the rest of your life. Since the income earned in a fixed annuity is subject to tax only as payments are made, you can enjoy a steady stream of income without worrying about a huge tax bill at one time. (A portion of the gain in a fixed annuity is taxed each time you receive a payment.)
A fixed annuity can be a wonderful way to supplement retirement savings, allowing you grow your savings tax–deferred.
You Can Make it Work
As you begin to think about how best to make your retirement savings work for you, it is important that you speak to competent legal, financial and insurance professionals. You've spent many years working and saving toward your retirement and have succeeded despite the pressures of being a woman. Now is the time to complete the circle and take control of your own future. With proper planning, these may truly be your "golden years."* All guarantees are dependent upon the claims paying ability of the issuer.